Let me start by giving thanks to God for sparing my life up till today and for granting me the grace that only he can give. I also give him praises that despite not being a man of means, I have remained a recurrent decimal in Ondo State politics despite having left as a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly since 2003 except for a short stint as Ondo State nominee on the Apex board of Odua Investment Ltd for 9 months in 2008/2009. In all my political undertakings, I have never had cause to grieve, cry or have cause to regret my participation. I give God all the glory, honour and adoration.
MY GOVERNORSHIP AMBITION
Once again, I came into the race in the APC with a sincere objective and unbending commitment not only to emerge as the party candidate, but also to go on and win in the November Governorship elections, give Ondo State my best and do that which I have always done when entrusted with responsibility, giving my state a humane, practical, purposeful, honest leadership especially having at the back of my mind that greed, dishonesty, deception and parochialism has been the major reasons why Ondo State is where it is today.
I had no doubt that I had challenges to face and therefore in my own way, thought of how to overcome those challenges. The first and major challenge I knew I would face is FINANCE. Quite a lot of my friends and political associates had deserted me in the past years and months for this reason. While I was able to do a lot for them and their family upkeep from time to time, I knew I could not fund a gubernatorial ambition. I have never deluded myself about that. I therefore set about trying to put in place the financial structures I would need to overcome the challenge. While it would be petty and unnecessary to go into details here, I must say that I did quite a lot on this, such that at a point, I believed I could go on and get things done.
I didn’t bother myself about the politics because I always knew and remain confident that i (sorry to sound immodest), understand the terrain of our politics and should be able to hold my head when political organization, networking and mobilization comes to play. I was able to successfully get the nod of a key caucus within the APC leadership who not only knew what I could do politically but also had come to believe that with Eyitayo Jegede as PDP candidate, political common sense dictated that having a well-known, experienced political mobilizer from Akure may be the best bet for the APC. That was why I was the last aspirant to collect a form on Friday, August 5th, which was the last day the form was to be sold to willing aspirants. I also set about putting in place the necessary physical structures such as my Campaign office, a few buses for the campaigns and so on.
Shortly after that however, when the news of the alleged endorsement of Dr Segun Abraham broke, it became obvious that the Caucus I spoke about had changed their mind in preference for a candidate from the Northern Senatorial zone. That was why throughout the process, I did not go on to meet party leaders to even inform them of my ambition, I did not go on a tour to meet party chieftains, executive members and or delegates in the various local governments. I did not even meet executive members at ward, local government levels in my Own Akure South LG; neither did I ever meet D.I. kekemeke or the State executive members to discuss my ambition with them. Apart from granting interviews to a few national dailies on the day I collected the nomination form in Abuja, I did not do so in Akure and neither did I go to our traditional Adaba Radio in Ondo state or put up Jingles on radio or TV which are my usual means of reaching out to people. A few close aides and associates of mine and I thought of the idea of withdrawing from the process, officially but I eventually decided against it.
First, in my dear Ondo state, when you go into a race and announce your withdrawal before the conclusion of the race, you are deemed to have collected money or in their parlance ‘’HE HAS SOLD OUT’’! I have still not forgotten how I was called names and abused when I went into an alliance with Late Dr Segun Agagu in 2007/2008 in order to form a coalition to stop Dr Segun Mimiko from taking power in Ondo State. Even though it was several months after the election, I was alleged to have been bought over! I had sold out, so they said! How do you sell out after the conclusion of a contest? Even my leaders in the AC in Ondo state who stayed in the AC and worked for the Labour Party of Mimiko were not accused but it was I, who went through a heart breaking experience who sold out!!! I do not regret that I did not offer any delegate in Ondo APC a penny, not to talk of Naira. Apart from not being able to afford it, I have no doubt that when delegates are bought with money for votes, nothing good eventually comes out of it.
When I emerged as AC Candidate in 2007, we did not buy votes. The primary election was the Option A4 system where all card carrying members will take part in the exercise. In such a system, how many people would you have to buy? Only a very popular candidate will emerge from such a system. The delegate system is alien to the progressives. It promotes corruption and popular candidates may not emerge unless they have also become so rich that they can afford to match their opponents “Naira for Naira” or “Dollar for Dollar”. May I add that I expressed my position on this to the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South) Engnr Segun Oni and our respected leader and National Vice Chairman Chief Olu Akinyelure at various times. Infact, I recall that while addressing Ondo State stakeholders of the party sometimes ago at the Akure town Hall, he told us all that the party was trying to put in place a system of electing our gubernatorial flag bearer in a way that money would play very little role if any, in the process. Unfortunately, the guidelines came out and it was the PDP delegate system that was going to be to be used. I am sure that he would have tried to fulfil that promise but didn’t succeed.
Chief Ajasin did not emerge through the delegate system. Evangelist Olumilua did not emerge in the SDP through the delegates system. Baba Adefarati did not emerge through the delegate system in the AD. The AC did not use the delegate system as well. Who are the delegates who voted in any case? Members of Ward Executive who are more often than not, unemployed young school leavers, okada riders, in some cases artisans who have also been pauperized by the prevailing economic conditions of this country. What would you expect them to do in the circumstance? Is this not a way of at least, living well and being able to feed themselves and their families, at least for some time?
PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS AND WAY FORWARD FOR APC
Again, I thank God I participated symbolically at least. My brothers, Niyi Adegbonmire (SAN) and Wale Akingbade were shocked and laughed almost uncontrollably when I told them just before the election, that I had no penny to give to a single delegate! Wale Akingbade was with me for breakfast yesterday (Sunday) and he told me categorically that now he sees and now understands what I had been going through all these years in Politics. I’m glad we are all better enlightened now. When it was obvious to me I could not fly, I told the few delegates who my preference was amongst the aspirants who could “afford” it. When some of the aspirants noticed I wasn’t working, I was approached by a few of them for us to work together. I saw sincerity and zeal to work for Ondo state in one of them, despite being advanced in age. I told a few of the delegates who are very close to me to try work with him without condition or pay. Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) was not my choice. In any case, he did not speak with me. But he has won eventually. We always knew only one person would emerge. I also know from political experience that there can never be a level playing ground in political contests. So, despite the wonderful arrangements of H.E, Badaru Abubakar, Governor of Jigawa state led Primary election committee, I knew there could never have been a fool proof election. It is true the list was changed from the one we were initially given at the National Secretariat on Monday 29th August. That list was not used by the Committee. In the circumstances, what do we do? We must not forget that political analysts predicted that once the APC primary was conducted, the party would be on fire. Should we allow this prediction to come to pass? No one else will gain from this predicted conflagration in the APC other than Governor Segun Mimiko.
I have left my party in the past due to issues like this but my experience in that regard was not very pleasant. No doubt, a lot of people may not be comfortable with the victory of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu but what can we do about it if he has emerged from a process put in place by the party and which the whole world watched on cable TV? I see no reason as at this morning why we should not support him. I urge all APC aspirants to go on and support him as well. A lot of our people have suffered in this state since Baba Adefarati left in 2003 and they have not had a government which they can call their own since then. Let’s all come together and do our best for Aketi and our party. I have no doubt that even though Chief Rotimi Akeredolu may not be the typical populist Nigerian politician, I have no doubt that he would try to do well and make a difference in Ondo state.
Again, a critical analysis of the primary election results shows that out of the over 2,700 delegates that participated, only less than 700 wanted Aketi. That to my mind means that the learned SAN has a lot of work to do to ensure the unity and cohesion of our party if we must win on Saturday 26th November. There is a lot to gain from being a good party man. Dr Segun Abraham has congratulated him. I hear Prof Borrofice has done so too. I saw pictures where Hon Bode Ayorinde, my ebullient and pleasant leader, Alhaji Jamiu Ekungba and my dearest Aunt, Jumoke Anifowoshe joined Aketi to the palace of the Olowo of Owo Sunday. That to me is beautiful.
I join them in congratulating him and I have sent him a text message in that regard. I restate my confidence in the JAGABAN BORGU and ASIWAJU OF LAGOS,Senator Bola Tinubu, our indisputable leader. I have not seen a politician like him, till today. He fights for whatever he believes in and puts his resources and life on the line to achieve it. We must never deride him, no matter what, particularly on the pages of newspapers or in the social media. He must not fall. He remains the hope of Yoruba land as at today! After all, who stands to gain more in the eventual victory of our party in Ondo state? Ondo APC must do all we can to get his blessings, support and cooperation. He has always been there for us and we still need him. Nigeria will be great again; Ondo will be back to the progressives in Jesus name.